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Former chairman calls on club to restore bond with paper

Andrew FittonThe former chairman of a football club which has axed pre-match press conferences has urged a restoration of its bond with the regional press.

Swindon Town FC announced on Tuesday it would not be holding pre-match conferences for the forseeable future, with interviews instead being conducted with players by the club’s in-house media team.

The move, which affects all media, comes after the Swindon Advertiser’s chief sports writer Tom Bassam was barred from a Friday morning conference at the request of chairman Lee Power in January.

Now Town’s former chairman Andrew Fitton, pictured above left, has spoken to the Advertiser about the dispute.

He said: “It is very unfortunate what has happened.  I always thought that one of the most important relationships we had was with the Advertiser.

“Not because that gives the Advertiser the right to slag you off, or anything like that.

“It is a very symbiotic relationship, because you fill a newspaper with stuff from the club and the club needs that publicity to draw people in.

“I was always willing to take a call, always willing to have a conversation and always willing to tell people, or to say ‘I can’t tell you that’, so there was a degree of honesty.”

A ban had been imposed on the Advertiser last year after the club objected to a tweet posted by Tom’s predecessor Sam Morshead prior to a match.

Following Town’s latest decision and a spate of other recent disputes between clubs and the regional press, Blackpool Gazette football writer Will Watt has called for the Football Association to step in and stop clubs from banning media organisations.

Mr Fitton added: “Fans are important to the club and fans are not stupid. Fans do understand and they appreciate being told, even if it is bad news.

“People can cope with bad news well. What people can’t cope with, is not knowing.”


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  • July 20, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    As a former regional sports editor, football league media director and former CEO at Swindon Town, who once had to ban the western daily mail, this is not the way forward.
    There has to be a relationship between a club and the regional media and you have to learn to take the rough with the smooth.
    Having dished it out and taken plenty back, it’s a fine balancing act, but this move will do the club no good whatsoever.
    “Inhouse’ journalism is little more than PR and propaganda, and clubs must realise they are need to be transparent to their community and fan base and learn to use their local media t their advantage.
    Sometimes that doesn’t always work – but hey it’s a damn sight better than banning everyone because they don’t write what you want.

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  • July 20, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Other than local newspapers, who gives a damn about division 1(old money division 3) football, at least from a media perspective. Premier yes, the bigger clubs in the Championship but 3rd division?

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